Despite the fact, that a range of clinically viable imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), photo emission tomography (PET), ultrasound and bioluminescence imaging are being optimised to track cells in vivo, many of these techniques are subject to limitations such as the levels of contrast agent required, toxic effects of radiotracers, photo attenuation of tissue and backscatter. With the advent of nanotechnology, nanoprobes are leading the charge to overcome these limitations. In particular, single wall nanotubes (SWNT) have been shown to be taken up by cells and as such are effective nanoprobes for cell imaging. Consequently, the main aim of this research is to employ mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) containing SWNT nanoprobes to image cell distribution in a 3D scaffold for cartilage repair. To this end, MSC were cultured in the presence of 32 mu g/ml SWNT in cell culture medium (alpha MEM, 10% FBS, 1% penicillin/streptomycin) for 24 hours. Upon confirmation of cell viability, the MSC containing SWNT were encapsulated in hyaluronic acid gels and loaded on polylactic acid polycaprolactone scaffolds. After 28 days in complete chondrogenic medium, with medium changes every 2 days, chondrogenesis was confirmed by the presence of glycosaminoglycan. Moreover, using photothermal optical coherence tomography (PT-OCT), the cells were seen to be distributed through the scaffold with high resolution. In summary, these data reveal that MSC containing SWNT nanoprobes in combination with PT-OCT offer an exciting opportunity for stem cell tracking in vitro for assessing seeding scaffolds and in vivo for determining biodistribution.